New Arrivals to the Archives—Part 2: Noise Music, Improvisations, and Atmospheres
My Podcast: The Holmes Archive of Electronic Music
My blog for the Bob Moog Foundation.
Pictured: Suzy Poling/Pod Blotz, The Swamp Command (2006 Fish Pies). Vinyl, LP, Limited Edition.
Welcome to the Archive of Electronic Music and Part 2 of my two-part episode featuring new arrivals to the archive. This part includes recordings falling into the categories of Noise Music, Improvisations, and Atmospheres.
The name “new arrivals,” for those of you who do not frequent record stores, are the latest vinyl discs to arrive at a given shop. They are filed temporarily in a “new arrival” section primarily in the hope that buyers will thin them out before the staff actually take it upon themselves to file the discs in the specific bins where they’re intended. It’s the first place I look when I go searching for vinyl because there is always a chance that you will be the first customer to notice a particular gem for a collection. And I make regular stops at record stores wherever I travel. If there is a match to what I am looking for, I pick them up to help document the history of electronic music. This is a healthy way to supplement the collecting I do for specific recordings.
My gameplan for these “new arrival episodes” is that I can select any vinyl recording, a single or LP, that somehow fits the mission of the Archive. It must be electronic in nature, but could be in any genre, from any country, that tells us something about the multi-faceted state of electronic music at any given time.
I will quickly breeze through the categories I’ve established for the records heard in this episode and explain where the recordings will be stored in the Archive. For the complete details, and I do mean details, about each of the tracks, please see the playlist for the podcast.
First up are Noise and Improvisation records. So much electronic music is produced live and improvised. In New York, this is happening every night of the week in some corner of the performing community. But so much of this music is never recorded nor available on record. So, I make an effort to seek-out such music on disc so that I can a record in the Archive. I found a mother lode of noise and experimental music hiding in the crates of my local New York record store. Many are limited edition vinyl releases, some are in the jazz idiom, others purely electronic and noise-based. These records capture performances that are long, often the entire side of an LP. This allows you to immerse yourself. We’ll hear “Effigy Mounds” from Corum; Crumer-Franco, “Agony In The Zodiac;” the full side of an record from Jeff Hartford as Noise Nomads; a fantastic recording called Osaka Fortune featuring the drumming of Pika and guitar work of Jojo Hiroshige, recorded in Japan; experimental sound and graphic artist Suzy Poling, as Pod Blotz, doing The Swamp Command; rhythmic noise that is modulated in real time by Rodger Stella and Kites; a track called “Black Flag” from UW OWL, which is reminiscent of early Cabaret Voltaire.
Then, we’ll listen to some records that I call Atmospheres or ambient. This is a solid category of electronic sound that has attracted many artists since the 1970s. I’ve selected a number of records that represent some of the most interesting new-old recordings I’ve never heard.
Roger Semsroth as Skanfrom provides two tracks, “Goodbye Mr. Robot” and “A Fax” from 2000; the Belian electronic duo AGE provides three tracks that range from ominous and dark to ambient and soothing. There is recording from Tangerine Dream called Underwater Sunlight that I hadn’t heard before and Iive included a track called “Ride on the Ray” from 1986, a year after the release of a more familiar LP, Le Parc, which has some sonic affinities to this music. To conclude, we’ll dip into the collection to experience some Japanese electronic music from Urashiman Synthesizer Fantasy in 1983.
Playlist for Part 2
Noise and Improvisations
I found a mother lode of noise and experimental music hiding in the crates of my local New York record store.
1. Corum, “Effigy Mounds: Ceremonial Music For Spore Alter” side a from Effigy Mounds: Ceremonial Music For Spore Alter” (2014 Psychic Sounds). Effigy Mounds is the second album of the Beguiling Isles Trilogy (Born of Earth's Torments / Effigy Mounds / Magic Mirror). This LP is about spore modification, the rise of the puffs, and juice modification. All with tabletop electronics and found sounds. Played and recorded 2012/2013. 20:07
2. Crumer-Franco, “Agony In The Zodiac” from Agony In The Zodiac (2008 Ahaziah). Vinyl, 12", Single Sided, Limited Edition. Droning, beautiful noise, hums, and crackling. Collaborative recording by Jason Crumer and Matt Franco made during the "American Band" sessions. Limited to 100 copies. 13:17
3. Noise Nomads, “Side B” from Ernest Thrasher (2013 Feeding Tube Records). Vinyl, 12", Album, Limited Edition. Noise and rhythmic noise by Jeff Hartford. Using Tascam 424 With Greenwood Electronics 2012 - 2013. 14:07
4. Jojo Hiroshige, Pika, Paal Nilssen-Love, Lasse Marhaug, Osaka Fortune (2013 Premier Sang). French release of noise/jazz improvisation. More Drums, Paal Nilssen-Love; Drums, Pika; Guitar, Jojo Hiroshige; Noises, Lasse Marhaug. Recorded at Osaka Chika-Ikkai, February 10th 2011. This noise romp is side two of this record. It begins with a supplementary drum track that sounds like mono to which Pika adds her own crashing, continual rhythms in stereo. 14:58
5. Pod Blotz, The Swamp Command (2006 Fish Pies). Vinyl, LP, Limited Edition. Pod Blotz is the electronic, experimental noise project of Suzy Poling, started in 2002. Limited to 320 numbered copies. 7:00
6. Rodger Stella, Kites, “Untitled” (side 1). from Interior Moon (2011 Mutter Wild). Both sides of the LP end in a locked groove. Rhythmic noise that is modulated in real time to gradually shift the timbres of the piece from beginning to end. 17:56
7. UW OWL, “Black Flag” from Thorn Elemental (2006 Phaserphone). Vinyl, LP, Limited Edition Recorded in 2003 on a broken, dust-filled concrete basement floor in Bushwick, NY. Die-cut record sleeve with letter-pressed inner tip-on. Copy 118 of edition of 333. Electronics and drum machines. Reminiscent of early Cabaret Voltaire. 3:13
Among the new arrival finds were several tracks that I categorize as atmospheric or ambient.
8. Skanfrom, “A Fax” from Split 12" (2000 A.D.S.R.). Now defunct electro synthpop label from Germany run by Skanfrom. Limited to 800 hand numbered copies. Mine is number 676. Skanfrom is Roger Semsroth. 3:15
9. AGE, “Landscape” and “Electronics” from Landscapes (1980 Gamm Records). Emmanuel D'haeyere and Guy Vachaudez, a Belgian EM duo with an affinity for ominous electronics. 9:12
10. AGE, “Hymalaya” from Landscapes (1980 Gamm Records). Emmanuel D'haeyere and Guy Vachaudez, a Belgian EM duo. I wanted contrast this soothing electronic sound with the previous tracks from this group. 2:34
11.Tangerine Dream, “Ride on the Ray” from Underwater Sunlight (1986 Relativity). Composed, Performed, Produced by Chris Franke, Edgar Froese, Paul Haslinger. Recorded April 1986, Berlin, West Germany. Another entry into the TG catalog. This album has some sounds and textures quite like Le Parc from 1985. 5:31
12.Nobuyoshi Koshibe (越部信義), Takashi Kokubo (小久保隆), “Midnight Submarine” (ミッドナイト・サブマリ) from Urashiman Synthesizer Fantasy (未来警察ウラシマン シンセサイザー・ファンタジー) (1983 Columbia). Continuing the water theme, some nicely produced Japanese synth music. 5:44
Opening background music: Thom Holmes, “Blader-WW1” (2019 no label). 16:36
Opening and closing sequences voiced by Anne Benkovitz.
Additional opening, closing, and other incidental music by Thom Holmes.
See my companion blog that I write for the Bob Moog Foundation.
For additional notes, please see my blog, Noise and Notations.